Morning Grind: Changing Faces, Part 1

An article by posted on September 22, 2010

Top of the mornin’, Met Nation.

Looks like the season has all but been decided and the trade talks have been intensified. This time, we may actually see real movement in an effort to improve our ball club. For the next three days, I’ll offer a small three-part commentary on the state of the team going forward and some of the hot trade talk already stirring in the Met Nation. Somebody said change is good.

Take Us To Your Leader

On the record: DW may be arguably the team’s best overall player. I did say arguably, didn’t I? Jose Reyes has been out hurt and his numbers are perhaps better on average so there is room for discussion there. Both guys are young and it shows in various ways. I don’t like either one as a leader for this team. I’m not saying that he should be traded from this team just because we need new bodies. What I am saying is that he’s not ready to lead this team where it counts. The de-facto leader being available to the media is a start but not enough to satisfy the burden of leadership, especially on a team lacking so much of it. Here are his comments on the FAN yesterday:

“I think there needs to be changes. There needs to be a new look, some new life. If that involves the coaching staff, that’s up to Mr. Wilpon and the Front Office. I think the players are as much to blame as any one else. I think there needs to be some sort of change to give it a new look and new life. I think starting pitching wins Championships. You look at teams in our division, the Braves – one through five – are built for that 162–game schedule.  The Phillies have three number ones at the top of that rotation…It all starts with starting pitching…You go out there, from Day 1 of Spring Training, you drill in to our heads that we’re gonna have a different attitude, a winning attitude, and that we expect to go out there and win every night, and I think it starts there.”

Pitching = Championships, Right?

Starting pitching goes a long way towards championships. Not by itself but it needs to be the first priority for any team with aspirations of the postseason. His referencing the other teams in the NL East is interesting. He could’ve named the STL, SD, CIN, and NYY’s of the world but he didn’t because you have to win in your division. What’s he saying about the Mets rotation and how it’s ”built”? Injuries happen but this rotation was fairly healthy. So what is our fearful leader referring to? I would suppose that his point about having three number ones in Philly is one point of emphasis. He clearly believes that the current rotation, though moderately successful this season, is not effective enough to compete. Do you agree? Let’s compare ATL, PHI, and NYM (Rec, IP, SO’s) and you be the judge if your leader is on the mark or missing it terribly? ATL:15-7, 3.74 ERA, 160 IP, 116 SO’s; PHI (6-man rotation):14-11, 4.59 ERA. 179 IP, 143 SO’s; NYM:11-8, 3.45 ERA, 164 IP, 117 SO’s.

Playing The Blame Game

He’s not the only guy on the team that has value but the fact his name keeps popping up in trade discussions. His age and contract don’t help matters much either as it is very reasonable. I would even submit that many people think one of the biggest problems with the team is the leader himself. I can’t pretend I understand that except that his attitude and demeanor may not be what most fans want. He is expected to carry the team on his back but he routinely does not. He was said to have choked in big game situations. And in recent comments, it was suggested that he was throwing his teammates and Jerry Manuel under the bus. It’s one thing when they belong under that bus but yet another when the thrower is as culpable as the rest. His loyalty and image matters but it is more important overall to you fans than winning championships?

I would’ve loved to see him evolve as a leader especially in clutch situations. He’s just not that kind of player. With the game on the line, I don’t want him at the plate with a man on second and third and the playoffs on the line. I’m not certain that “that dude” is even on this team. It used to be Beltran but 2006 fixed that for me. Since his beaning by Matt Cain, DW’s hit and run totals have been the lowest and his strikeouts the highest in six years. Perhaps mere coincidence. 

He looks lost at the plate at times and flubs routine plays in the field with errant throws. DW doesn’t suck as a player. He already holds the doubles record and possibly the RBI record soon. But I think in this case, although he is the “face” of the franchise, I’d like a different spokesperson rallying the troops to dig deeper, play harder, and show a winning attitude. But he is right about one thing. The players are to blame also but he may find himself, as the anointed leader, bearing much of the responsibility. Some may call him the scapegoat before too long. I don’t believe that as good as DW is, he will ever be what many have made him out to be. He is a .280 hitter with decent defensive skills and one of the best third basemen in the league. He is not Albert Pujols or Joe Mauer. He is David Wright. And the cruel reality is this is a business. Two things can happen here: He may be reduced to the middle of the pack on a team with superstar talent at the top or he might be on the business end of an exit from Flushing.

Look forward to your thoughts and comments. In tomorrow’s second edition of this piece, we’ll talk more about the team that may have to make the biggest and most controversial moves possible to regain relevance. Have a great day. LGM.

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